Across the world people are celebrating Valentine’s Day, but for some it’s just another day of abuse.
Today Suffolk County Council (SCC) is working in collaboration with Suffolk Constabulary and the Suffolk Domestic Abuse Partnership to urge young people across the county to ‘be brave and speak out against abuse in a relationship’.
As part of the ‘Abuse in a relationship is never ok’ county-wide initiative to raise awareness of the increasing cases of abuse in teenage relationships, the Domestic Abuse Partnership is working with a number of schools to provide training for teachers as well as sessions direct to pupils.
To support this work, today (Friday) the Domestic Abuse Partnership is launching a new pack for teachers. The pack includes useful resources to help aid conversations with young people about the issues; and also a DVD of short films made by young people to help raise awareness amongst their peers. Commissioned by Compassion, the voluntary organization that supports those whose lives are impacted by domestic abuse related issues, the films cover topics that include relationship abuse, sexting and teenage pregnancy
Chelsea, one of stars of the films and a teenage victim of an abusive relationship said:
“It’s very easy to give in to all the little things, just to try and make things work with someone you think you love. Before you know it, you’re stuck. But you’re never as stuck as you think you are. Don’t worry about what anyone will say or think of you, do what is best for you because only you know what is going on behind those closed doors.”
One survey by the NSPCC and University of Bristol reported that 77% of young people feel they do not have enough information and support to deal with physical or sexual violence. 25% of girls (the same proportion as adult women) and 18% of boys reported some form of physical relationship abuse; 75% of girls and 50% of boys reported some form of emotional relationship abuse.
Worryingly, the majority of young people either told a friend or no-one about the violence; only a minority informed an adult.
The study also showed that young people from very disadvantaged areas appear to hold no greater risk of experiencing physical partner violence than those from less deprived areas.
Councillor Colin Spence, cabinet member for public protection said: “It is important to change mind sets and make young people realise that abuse in relationships is not normal or acceptable. It’s not just physical violence that makes an abusive relationship – if you are being told what to wear, who to see and speak to, where you can go, and / or if you are constantly criticised and put down – this could be abuse.”
“The campaign will encourage schools, colleges and other educational establishment to take an active part throughout 2014/15. Suffolk’s ‘Abuse in a relationship is never ok’ project aims to establish close working links with schools across Suffolk, provide free training for school staff and governors and enable access to specialist group programmes for those young people vulnerable to teenage relationship abuse.”
The Crime Survey for England and Wales 2012/13 states that 40% of young people are in abusive relationships.
Tim Passmore, Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk said: “It is a very regrettable reflection on our society that domestic abuse is so prevalent, and even sadder when you consider the number of young people suffering in abusive relationships. It is crucially important that victims of abuse in teenage relationships have the confidence and support they need to confide in someone and break the cycle.
“Domestic abuse is an area that I have huge interest in. It is imperative that, as PCC, I ensure that statutory safeguarding responsibilities are given the highest priority. I am very pleased to support this campaign and hope that by talking about the issue more openly in schools, it will give anyone suffering abuse the confidence to speak out.”
For more information and support on abusive relationships, visit: www.suffolk.gov.uk/bebrave